Does the pope have anything to do with the end times?

By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries

With the recent resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the following election of Pope Francis I, has received a lot of questions about whether this is a sign of the end times and/or about whether the next pope will be the end times antichrist or false prophet. A lot of this interest has to do with the Prophecy of St. Malachy, specifically in regards to the black pope.

The problem with all of this speculation is, to the surprise of many, the fact that the Bible nowhere mentions or even hints about the concept of the pope or the papacy. The idea of the universal Christian Church having a human head, a "Vicar of Christ", is absolutely foreign to the Bible. The Holy Spirit is the "vicar" of Christ (John 14:16).

Many Protestant Christians see a connection between the Roman Catholic Church and the end times due to the reference to seven hills in the "Whore of Babylon" prophecy (Revelation 17:9). The city of Rome is traditionally known as the city on seven hills. Thus the conjectured connection between the Roman Catholic Church, which is headquartered in Rome, and the end times antichrist, beast, false prophet, etc.

First John 4:2-3 tells us how to identify the spirit of the antichrist; "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world." Pope Francis I professes a very biblical and orthodox understanding of the deity of humanity of Jesus Christ. For the most part, the Roman Catholic Church as a whole has always professed a biblical understanding of the Person of Jesus Christ. This would seem to argue against the pope being the antichrist. Of course, it is possible that the next pope, or a future pope, will deny the biblical identity of Jesus Christ. If that is ever the case, that person would be a possible candidate as the identity of the end times antichrist or false prophet.

So, does the new pope have anything to do with the end times? Possibly, but I doubt it. I cannot imagine the antichrist or his false prophet coming from a church that the majority of people in the world ignore, and due to the recent child molestation crimes and subsequent cover-ups, despise.

Whatever the case, and whoever turns out to be the antichrist, we have nothing to fear. It is just another reminder that this world is not our home.

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." —Philippians 3:20

Image credit: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

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Photograph: | Published 4-18-13